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11 November 2009 @ 08:41 pm
Asteroid passes just 8,700miles from Earth - with only 15 hours warning  
By Claire Bates
Last updated at 10:01 AM on 11th November 2009

Although no one noticed at the time, the Earth was almost hit by an asteroid last Friday.

The previously undiscovered asteroid came within 8,700miles of Earth but astronomers noticed it only 15 hours before it made its closest approach.

Its orbit brought it 30 times nearer than the Moon, which is 250,000 miles away.

 
artist's impression

site where meteorite hit

Part of the devastation in Tunguska, Siberia, in 1908 after a meteorite struck. The impact created a blast so powerful it levelled 1,200 square miles of forest

But before you head for the nuclear bunkers you will be relieved to learn the tumbling rock was only 23ft across. Similar sized objects pass by this close to Earth about twice a year and impact on the planet about once every five years.